UK women's notes: Small lineup pays big dividends in second half

jsmith3@herald-leader.comFebruary 14, 2013 

When Kentucky started the second half, it did it without post stars Samarie Walker and DeNesha Stallworth.

Coach Matthew Mitchell said later he wasn't trying to send a message, just trying to get UK a win.

It worked as the Cats moved to a four-guard lineup, something they hadn't practiced or even worked on much since last season, when it was so effective for them.

"We just felt like if we could change it up and get some energy out there, so we went to four-guard lineup," Mitchell said. "Sort of went back old-school Kentucky there with four guards and one post."

Kastine Evans, all 5-foot-8 of her, moved to the power forward spot.

Bria Goss, who started the night on the bench, started the second half.

Goss said she could definitely see a difference in energy.

"We did a it a lot last year, so we just kind of fed off last year," she said. "Kastine brought a whole lot of energy; I brought a whole lot of energy. When we had four guards in there, we opened up the lane and pulled the bigs out."

The smaller lineup helped force the Gamecocks into 13 second half turnovers.

At the half, Mitchell said he actually pondered going to a five-guard lineup, but his assistant coaches wisely talked him out of it and encouraged him to put Azia Bishop in to start the second half as well.

Mitchell admitted there is a certain comfort level to having the four guards in there.

"You have some smart kids like Kastine (Evans) and A'dia (Mathies) who don't have to take 1,000 reps there and you can plug them in," Mitchell said. "As a coach you have to figure out what's the best way for us to win."

But he's not sure it's a permanent solution for the Cats, who travel to Texas A&M to play in a Big Monday contest on ESPN2 next.

Pink panthers

When UK trailed by 16 points to the Gamecocks, there probably was some thought of burning their one-game only pink uniforms, worn as part of a national initiative to raise breast cancer awareness.

The players said they were happy to wear the pink unis and shoes in memory of former North Carolina State Coach Kay Yow, who died of breast cancer, in the annual "Play4Kay" game.

"I think it is a fun game; just what Kay Yow has done for women's basketball and women all across the nation who struggle with breast cancer," Evans said. "It is a fun game to be able to show support for those people."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241 Twitter: @jenheraldleader Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com

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